Companies / 3 February 2020, 1:00pm / Philippa Larkin
JOHANNESBURG - Transnet on Friday moved to stabilise its leadership, appointing its first post-state capture group chief executive, Portia Derby, to take the utility forward.
The group said it chose Derby, the ex-wife of former Transnet boss Brian Molefe, to steer the state-owned freight-rail and logistics giant into a new direction.
It said Derby, whose tenure began on Saturday, would bring certainty to its operations and play a key role in leading the revival of the parastatal.
Transnet chairperson Popo Molefe said Derby was appointed on the recommendation of the board with the support of the Cabinet.
Molefe said Derby would bring insights, experience and competence to lead Transnet.
“Her appointment comes after a rigorous and extensive search.”
Derby’s appointment comes six months after the board finished interviews for Transnet's group chief executive. She is understood to have pipped Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) chief executive Patric Dlamini and former Transnet executive Simo Lushaba for the post.
Transnet has had two acting chief executives since Siyabonga Gama was fired nearly two years ago.
Gama, who succeeded Molefe, was axed after reports from law firms Werksmans and MNS implicating him in alleged breaches of procurement rules on a R54billion contract to buy 1064 new locomotives.
He tried unsuccessfully to challenge his dismissal through the Labour Court.
The group featured prominently in Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Last year Judge Zondo heard how the utility paid hundreds of millions of rands to Gupta-linked companies Regiments and Trillian for services which could have been provided internally.
Transnet said it had shunted the days of under-performance brought about by corruption to allay investor fears.
In the year to end March, Transnet reported a 24.7percent increase in profit to R6bn and a 1.6percent rise in revenue to R74.1bn.
However, the group recorded R49bn in irregular expenditure due to irregular locomotive contracts. In 2018, irregular expenditure amounted to R8bn, leaving the utility with a qualified audit opinion due to the lack of implementation of controls.
Derby is a former director-general in the Department of Public Enterprises.
She holds an honours degree in economics from the University of KZN and an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand.
The department described Derby as an independent and dynamic leader with vast experience in both the public and private sectors.
Spokesperson Sam Mkokeli said Derby would work with the board and other stakeholders to rebuild an institution that was severely affected by state capture and large-scale corruption.
“Transnet is one of the central entities in our efforts to revive the economy and simultaneously effect deep and meaningful reforms that will be felt by ordinary citizens and businesses as well,” Mkokeli said.
“The company is critical in making South Africa commercially competitive by providing and maintaining key economic infrastructure through our ports, rail and pipeline networks that facilitate the efficient movement of goods from where they are produced,” Mkokeli said.
Transnet said former acting group chief executive Mohammed Mohamedy has been asked to return to the position of acting chief financial officer and Mark Greg-MacDonald will serve as the acting group treasurer.